macrohistory & world report

Kingdom of Tonga

Location of Tonga Archipelago

Location of Tonga Archipelago


World Factbook: Tonga – unique among Pacific nations – never completely lost its indigenous governance. The archipelagos of "The Friendly Islands" were united into a Polynesian kingdom in 1845. Tonga became a constitutional monarchy in 1875 and a British protectorate in 1900. it withdrew from the protectorate and joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970. Tonga remains the only monarchy in the Pacific.

Wealth and National Well-Being

World Factbook: "Tonga has a small, open, South Pacific island economy. It has a narrow export base in agricultural goods. Squash, vanilla beans, and yams are the main crops. Agricultural exports, including fish, make up two-thirds of total exports. The country must import a high proportion of its food, mainly from New Zealand."

Economic growth rate
2011: 1.4%
2010: 0.3%
2009: minus 0,3%

Labor force in agriculture
2003: 31.8%

Export commodities
Squash, fish, vanilla beans and root crops.

Export/import ratio
2006: $22 miliion, imports $139 mllion. (World Factbook 2012: The country remains dependent on external aid and remittances from Tongan communities overseas to offset its trade deficit.)

Health expenditures
2009: 6.2% of GDP


Living in an urban area:
2010: 23%

Net migration rate
2012: Net loss of 17.9 persons per 1,000 population per year (1,900 people).

Density for 2005: 156.5 per square kilometer.

Literacy, Age 15 and Older
2003: males 98.4 percent, females 98.7 percent

Polynesian. About 300 Europeans.

Christian – largely Free Wesleyan


More than 150 islands, south of Samoa and East of Fiji.  The largest island, Tongatapu, is equivalent to  16 by 16 kilometers or 10  by 10 miles.


A hereditary constitutional monarchy. Its legal system is based on English law.

Parliament has thirty members, 21 of whom perpetually remain hereditary noblemen.

Capital: Nuku'alofa.

Recent History

Became a British protectorate in 1900. Acquired its independence in 1970 and became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

December 14, 2004: In the week ahead, a  platoon of the Royal Tongan Marines who have been serving in Iraq will return to Tonga. Forty-five men, all volunteers went to Iraq in July for a six-month tour of duty and served alongside U.S. Marines.


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